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Cheaper thin-film solar cells topple crystalline

Posted: 05 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:thin film? solar cell? crystalline material?

Advanced Green Technologies (AGT) claims that thin-film solar cells can use inexpensive, low-temperature processing to stack amorphous silicon and germanium photovoltaic layers atop a reflective foil backing. By using multiple layers with semiconductor junctions tuned to different wavelengths of light, AGT touts that their solar cells are not only cheaper, but could outperform expensive crystalline solar cells in many climates.

According to the company, its thin-film solar cell modules trade higher output on sunny days for better performance on cloudy days. AGT said its thin-film cells outperform glass encapsulated monocrystalline solar cells where sunny days are the exception. The reason, the company said, is that they continue to produce electricity when it's cloudy.

"That trade-off is regional," said AGT's Gene Okun. "If you are in an area that has all sun, such as southern California, then very well we may find that the glass does produce more electricity than the thin film. In areas like Oregon and New Jersey and other northern regions where you have inclement weather a good majority of the year, our thin film will actually produce more power on an annual basis."

AGT uses flexible, lightweight laminates, encapsulated in a transparent, UV stabilized polymer, which it fabricates into large modules that are extremely lightweight compared to the glass-encapsulated modules used by crystalline solar cells.

"What we do is take the thin film [material] and create a 10- by 20-foot modules, which are then deployed on very large scale roofsparticularly roofs that are single ply and cannot maintain the weight load of heavier glass panels," said Okun.

AGT's modules use thin-film photovoltaic laminates manufactured by United Solar Ovonic, a subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices Inc.

- R. Colin Johnson
EE Times

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